Eye in the Sky
Jean Tresfon, photographer and gyrocopter pilot known for his beautiful aerial shots of the Cape Peninsula, has been instrumental in generating public awareness of sewage pollution in some of the bays around Cape Town.
He has been flying his gyrocopter two or three times a week around the Cape Peninsula for years, taking photos of marine wildlife, including sharks, tuna, whales and big shoals of game fish.
Through his regular marine survey flights, Tresfon often noticed and photographed large plumes of brown or milky white water on the sea surface, always in the same areas, off Green Point, Camps Bay and Hout Bay. He says the plumes are getting worse every year.
What he was seeing was the sewage and grey water that is released into the ocean via City of Cape Town managed marine outfalls. Tresfon’s photos made many Capetonians sit up and notice as most still don’t know that about 55 million litres of raw, untreated sewage and greywater is pumped into the ocean off Green Point, Camps Bay and Hout Bay every day.
He shared his photos on social media in 2015 and it went viral. The issue ended up on the front page of most newspapers and other media and generated controversy that continues to the present day. Realising the power of his photos, Tresfon continues to photograph trouble spots and share these images to show the scale and context of coastal water contamination around Cape Town.
In the process he has come to know many of the scientists and other concerned citizens working on the issue, such as water pollution consultant Professor Jo Barnes, University of the Western Cape water treatment expert, Professor Leslie Petrik and public health expert Professor Edda Weimann.
See more about waste water treatment of Cape Town here.